The Devil Wears Okirika by Kingsley Olanrewaju Efughi
Dé Nwachukwu patted the young boy on the head as he dropped the jug of palm wine. “Thank you my son.”
“Yes sir, Dé John would be outside soon.”
The young boy hurried inside the house. There was something intimidating about Dé Nwachukwu, despite the fact that he was quite a smallish man. Maybe it was his piercing eyes or the fact that his mouth never turned upwards, not even when he smiled. And he hardly smiled, especially not this morning when he seemed to be in a bad mood.
Dé Nwachukwu folded both arms on his cane and tapped his foot impatiently. His village was in a state of distress. Three of their daughters had been abused. Raped mercilessly, beaten and given a dishonourable death. Were the gods asleep? Who could be behind such devlish acts?
Dé Nwachukwu sighed and shook his head in dismay. Too many questions had been plaguing him this past month but no answer was forthcoming. Now three families had been thrown into grief and the worst thing was he feared for more families, he feared for the young daughters of Amaife. He feared for his two daughters.
Dé John moved the curtain aside and stepped out. He was a tall man unlike his friend. Dé John had his pipe in his mouth. As typical of him, he had on a singlet and a wrapper tied round his waist. He sat down on the bench across his friend, looking gloomy.
“Dé, I won’t greet you good morning because there’s nothing good about this morning.”
“I agree,” Dé Nwachukwu nodded, finally picking up the jug of palm wine and pouring into a cup.
“What I’m wondering is where Pà Kenneth is,” Dé John said, puffing on his tobacco pipe.
“He told me he had a meeting with Bartholomew.”
Dé John scoffed, “The pastor? What is he doing, running after churches now?”
Dé Nwachukwu sipped from his cup, “Apparently a crusade is coming from another state and the pastor plans to host them.”
“Is that what we need right now?” Dé John asked in disgust.
“Well it appears the gods have forgotten us, so maybe that’s what we need.” Dé Nwachukwu replied, his voice rising a bit, “we need to call a meeting. Our women are getting scared.”
“I can’t argue with that, very soon they would all lock themselves indoors,” Dé John agreed helping himself to the jug.
“Maybe that’s the best thing,” Dé Nwachukwu said. Frankly, he was getting worried for his daughters. Especially Amarachi, she was widely regarded as the gem of the village and now more than ever he was worried for her safety. The three girls that had been murdered had two things in common: they were beautiful; they were in their early 20s.
“We need a concrete solution my friend.”
“Yes I agree, we need to rally our youths.”
The New Life Ministries team of youth leaders had of 5 people. Osi who was the youth pastor, the extremely slender Gregory his assistant and close frind then there was Bukky, she was the official secretary and had the responsibility of editing the monthly editions of the church’s On Fire magazine and then Ovie a.k.a Biggie.
That Sunday, Osi had announced that they had an emergency meeting after the service and so they waited in his office.
“Please I don’t have to remind you of the contributions we talked about,” Bukky announced settling down into a chair. She lowered her voice, looking pointedly at Ovie “concerning Osi’s birthday.”
“I didn’t forget,” he shrugged.
“What is this meeting for anyway?” Gregory asked. He was seated on the edge of the desk. There were only three chairs in Osi’s office after all and Ovie was tucked comfortably in two while Bukky sat across the table in Osi’s chair.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody called this meeting to remind the rest of us about a certain contribution for a particular birthday present,” Ovie jabbed his thumb at Bukky when he said somebody.
Gregory chuckled and Bukky rolled her eyes. Before she could speak, the door opened and Osi stepped inside.
“You’re all here, good.” He entered the office and shut the door gently.
“What’s going on?” Ovie asked immediately.
Osi glanced at him. He paced round the small office, he didn’t waste time. “We’re going to spearhead the uplifting crusade” “Are you serious?” Gregory asked.
“What do you mean we?” Ovie asked.
Osi stopped pacing and looked at his friends, “I’m very serious and I mean we as in the four of us.” “Just us?” Bukky asked.
“Well, the deacon is going too. I’ve been in a meeting with him and the Reverend all afternoon. We leave for Amaife tomorrow.” “Amaife. I’ve never heard of it before.” Ovie said.
“Yesterday was my first time too, Ovie I need a statement of our purse contents immediately, there’s so much to do.”
“But tomorrow, why weren’t we told sooner, to have adequate time to prepare?” Bukky asked, getting up to offer the chair to Osi.
He remained standing. Truth be told, his mind was far away. For the first time he began feeling the weight of the responsibility. “Don’t forget we are not here to serve men, we have a lot to do. Gregory you have calls to make, we need bible themes and doctrines for the duration of the week, Bukky the fliers and tracts and paperwork. It’s so many. Ovie let’s know how much we need.”
Okudili was a beast of a man. At five feet seven inches, his lack of height was made up for with excess girth. He had a barrel of a chest, strong thick arms and his low center of gravity ensured he was one of the most successful wrestlers in Amaife. He was also well loathed and well respected although the respect was from of fear.
Okudili was simply referred to as the village drunkard who was known to spend all day chasing anything in skirts from dusk to dawn.
“Elizabeth, how are you?” He shouted at a young girl who carried a tray of vegetables on her head. She ignored him but quickened her steps when she passed the tree.
Okudili drank from his bottle of alchoholic concoctions.
He watched the swaying of the young girl’s hips and licked his lips,”The young has grown, see little Elizabeth o.”
He watched her lustfully for some seconds but then he frowned suddenly. His eyes had come across Stevenson Galdot.
Okudili hated the man with all his being.
Stevenson was loved by everybody. Every girl and yes every woman in Amaife secretly or openly had a crush on him.
Okudili snickered, “All because of his useless white skin.”
Stevenson was a European University Anthropology professor with special focus on Africa.
He had landed in Amaife a year ago and after visiting all neighbouring villages he had chosen Amaife to settle down and write a book. In his early forties, single and quite a handsome, he was loved by all the villagers. They loved that he was a people person.
As Okudili watched on, Stevenson helped an elderly woman load firewood inside a truck.
“Thank you, nna,” the woman said.
“No problem, you shouldn’t be doing any heavy lifting,” he flashed a charming smile.
“Useless white man,” Okudili scoffed from his tree.
“Hey OK, what are you drinking today? Let’s share a drink,” Stevenson stopped by the tree as he usually did every time. He always referred to Okudili as OK but that was not okay with Okudili.
“This drink is for real men. Your type should drink Ribena,”
Okudili replied. The only thing that had kept him from beating the man to a pulp was because he knew he would be in trouble with the community.
“Ah, I’d bring a bottle of scotch later, you’d enjoy it,” Stevenson said with a smile.
Amarachi and her friend Oluchi walked round the market. They were browsing through for ingredients to make bitter leaf soup which was Paul’s favourite.
“So he’s coming tomorrow not today?” Amarachi asked her friend as they approached a woman selling stockfish.
“Yes, he had something to take care of last minute but he would be here by morning.”
“I know you can’t wait to see him. Mama otu’ tu oma…ego lé?“
Amarachi just smiled as she watched the exchange between Oluchi and the seller.
Her friend was bent on playing matchmaker and fixing her up with her brother. Well she loved Oluchi like a sister and even got along with her better than her own sister but she was going to disappoint her on this issue.
“Let’s go, this price is too high for me,” Oluchi said taking her hand and turning away from the stall.
“The best time to buy things is during the market day, things are much cheaper then,” Amara said. They continued with their shopping, stopping here and there and haggling over the prices.
“Oh my God, look at Steven,” Oluchi gasped suddenly.
Amarachi turned and saw the white man under the tree talking to the village nuisance. “What could they possibly be talking about?”
“God, he’s so fine, I….” Oluchi sighed.
Amarachi shook her head. “You need to get over this your crush. Haba.”
“It’s not just a crush…I think…I think I love him.”
Amara had no reply. She could see both men were looking their way. Okudili was looking at her the way he always did that made her feel uneasy.
“Amara, I’d like to see your father,” Stevenson called out as they got closer, “Oluchi how are you today?”
Amara could feel the excitement on her friend.
“Dé Nwachukwu is out, he and Dé John left early today,” she replied. She noticed Okudili was glaring at her and licking his lips.
“No problem, I’d check back later,” he waved cheerfully at them before turning.
The two girls continued with their shopping, “I don’t like how Okudili always looks at me,” Amara said.
“Is it today it started?” Oluchi asked her playfully. She then proceeded to fill her ears with how she and Steven could double date with Amara and Paul and how it would be a match made in heaven.
Amara was silent, she hadn’t met anyone who woke any kind of feelings in her but the funny thing was she felt that was about to change.
She decided to be open-minded and free when meeting Paul the next day.
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